Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. In this edition we take a look back at Bally’s winning the World Poker Tour race, a pair of UKGC developments, and criticism of the Scottish government by the BGC.
Intouch Games has received an official warning, must pay a £3.4m fine and is required to undergo extensive auditing after a Gambling Commission assessment revealed social responsibility, money laundering and marketing failures.
As part of a new licence condition, the regulator says that the company shall, at its own expense, instruct a firm of independent auditors to carry out an audit that ensures full compliance with the licence conditions and codes of practice.
Social responsibility failings included stating in its responsible gambling team interaction guidance that a bonus may be offered if a customer provides identification, as well as not putting into effect its policies and procedures for customer interaction for seven customers where it had concerns that activity may indicate problem gambling.
Furthermore, it was also reported that the firm was not using all relevant sources of information to ensure effective decision making, and to guide and deliver effective customer interactions for those seven customers.
The UKGC updates that “if the licensee had followed its policy it should have given more consideration to placing mandatory limits on customer accounts”.
Allied Esports Entertainment is to terminate its stock purchase agreement with Element Partners, in favour of what is deemed a “superior proposal” from Bally’s Corporation.
The group says that its board of directors, in consultation with its financial and legal advisors, made the determination of the second proposal, which was tabled earlier this month.
Under the terms of the Bally’s transaction, the company would acquire all of the equity interests of Club Services, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary that directly or indirectly owns the company’s poker-related business and assets, including the entities comprising the World Poker Tour, for consideration totalling $90m in cash at closing.
This followed private investment group Element Partners detailing an agreement that would have seen $68.25m paid upfront, with a fully guaranteed revenue share of five per cent of WPT-branded tournament entry fees on Element-owned or licensed gaming platforms, up to a maximum of $10m, payable over three years after closing.
The Betting and Gaming Council has condemned the Scottish Government for what the standards body says is a “refusal to let casinos reopen alongside the rest of Scotland’s hospitality sector”.
In a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said the “baffling” move had left the 700 men and women they employ in limbo.
Under current policy, casinos would only be allowed to re-open in level one areas, whereas other hospitality venues, such as pubs and restaurants, can do so in level two zones.
Pointing to a report by Dr Lisa Ackerley which reported that casinos were “as safe, if not safer” than other hospitality venues, Dugher says that there’s no scientific reason for “singling out” casinos.
Hospitality venues, such as pubs and restaurants, have been told that they can reopen from April 26, whereas the BGC adds that gaming establishments “have only been told they can re-open in ‘early June’”.
Neil McArthur is to depart his role of chief executive of the Gambling Commission after an almost 15 year tenure, with the regulator to shortly begin the process of recruiting a successor for an interim period.
This is to allow the successor to current chairman Bill Moyes, whose term of office ends later this year, to appoint a permanent chief executive in due course.
Whilst the recruitment process is ongoing, deputy chief executive Sarah Gardner and chief operating officer Sally Jones will jointly become acting chief executive.
An increased share of sports revenue is being targeted by the LeoVegas Group, after detailing the €5m purchase of Expekt Nordics and related assets from Betclic Group.
The sports betting brand, which joins a stable of 13 other online entities, holds a Swedish gaming licence, and is lauded as “one of the largest actors” in the region despite declining in market share in recent years.
Alongside the aforementioned transaction, LeoVegas is also entering into an agreement to acquire assets related to Expekt from Mangas Gaming, including all rights to the brand and access to the existing customer database.
The 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will “almost certainly” be the first sporting event in US history to draw more than $1bn in legal wagering, and could approach $1.5bn, according to PlayUSA projections.
However, caution is issued on the unpredictability of gauging interest in the event, with data lacking from 2020 due to the tournament’s cancellation, and a radically changed sports betting ecosystem now evident across the country.
With numerous variables in play, analysts are predicting that New Jersey will lead the way with $300m in betting, however, Indiana, where the tournament is to be hosted in its entirety, is also said to boast the potential to turn heads.
Nevada casinos have received a further easing of capacity restrictions that were imposed to combat the COVID-19 health crisis, with Governor Steve Sisolak this week outlining the latest stage in the Silver State’s ‘Road to Recovery’ roadmap.
From Monday 15 March casinos, alongside a range of other hospitality establishments, were permitted to operate at a 50 per cent capacity limit or 250 individuals, whichever is less.
This latest moves follows the implementation of a month-long capacity limit of 100 individuals or 35 per cent of fire code capacity in February, and comes almost a year to the date that establishments across the region were first issued mandated closure orders.
Furthermore, the state is also striving to streamline the process for submission and approval of large gatherings, which it hopes will be another step toward re-igniting the meetings and events industry.
The announcement comes on the heels of the governor expanding vaccine eligibility to hospitality and food service workers earlier in the week.